By Sun News Publishing Sunday, February 12, 2012
The Niger Delta militant group, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), resumed its attacks on the nation’s oil production facilities on February 4 with a strike at a crude oil trunk line belonging to Nigeria Agip Oil Company in Brass, Bayelsa State.
The group, which launched this latest attack after almost a year of ceasefire, described it as the first of more devastating ones it would unleash on the nation’s oil facilities and South African interests in the country, specifically the communications giant, MTN, and SacOil, an oil and gas company operating in the Niger Delta.
Spokesman of the group, Jomo Gbomo, said South Africa, which is currently trying Henry Orkah, a MEND leader, for terrorism, would pay a heavy price for President Jacob Zuma’s interference in the fight of the people of Niger Delta for justice. The return to attacks on oil facilities in the country by MEND is unfortunate. The group and similar ones in the Niger Delta had severely crippled the nation’s oil production before government implemented an amnesty programme that saw the militants leaving the creeks and handing over their weapons in exchange for training and re-integration into society. The respite that the controversial amnesty deal brought has been threatened in recent months by some indigenes from the region who also want to benefit from the amnesty package.
But the latest attack on the Agip facility, which reportedly led to a lock in of about 4000 barrels of crude oil daily, is an unwelcome signal of MEND’s return to its campaign against oil production in the country. This is a sad and untimely development, coming at a time when the nation is battling the onslaught from Boko Haram in the Northern part of the country.
Nigeria cannot afford any crisis in the Niger Delta at this time. The militants have said their objective is to send Western oil companies out of the Niger Delta. This campaign, undoubtedly, will seriously undermine oil production and the economy of the country. For a mono-product economy already wobbling under the weight of mismanagement of oil revenue, this will be devastating.
Nigeria does not need any further hostilities at this time. The group’s claim that it has been busy acquiring arms for a final onslaught on oil production is worrisome. We think the trouble from the religious sect, Boko Haram, is more than enough headache for Nigeria and her security agencies. If another round of kidnappings, killings and bombings begin in the Niger Delta, the effect will be devastating and Nigeria may well be on the brink of a war.
To avert such ugly scenario, we advise that whatever wise counsel led to the cessation of hostilities by MEND in the past should prevail.
Whatever grouses the group has against government and the oil companies can be discussed amicably as was done before government and the militants arrived at the amnesty deal. A campaign of hostilities will not resolve any problem. Ultimately, the group must come to the conference table. Government has, on its part, done much to placate militants. Let MEND and similar groups reciprocate. Let them come out to discuss their grievances with a view to reaching an amicable resolution.
MEND should re-think the planned attacks because such a course will not only affect government, it will hurt all Nigerians as it may bring the nation’s economy to its knees. We urge MEND and all aggrieved persons in the country to always consider the larger interest of the Nigerian people. Let there be an end to the frequent resort to militancy and violence by disgruntled groups in the country. Rapprochement via dialogue is a much better way to achieve desired objectives.
via Daily Sun
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